Spring Football: An Interview With Head Coach Spike Dykes

Recently Texas Tech head football coach Spike Dykes spoke on a number of subjects, including a preview of next season, a look back at the players of 1996 and the overall football program at Texas Tech. Here are his comments.

"Offensively, I think we are in pretty good shape in a few positions and very very short in a few other positions. A major concern is the offensive line. We lost five excellent football players that have played a lot of football for us on the offensive side of the ball from tackle to tackle. We really lost all three tight ends from a year ago. We are really barefoot at that position and we've really got a lot of work to do."

"The quarterback position is the strength of our football team. I think Zebbie is self explanatory. I think he has had a great career at this stage of the game. The best is yet to come. I think, certainly, he will be everything we ever thought he would be this year. And, I think in this, his senior year, all the leadership and all the hard work will pay off. He is the most fierce competitor I have ever coached. All of those things come into effect when you are a senior.

"I think Rob Peters behind him has got a chance to be a good quarterback. Rob has got a great future ahead of him. He has got a lot of talent, a lot of things he can deal with. I really think he is going to be an excellent football player. Matt Tittle is behind them. Matt has got some ability and it will be interesting to see how he does."

"The tailback position is going to be wide open. Anthony Malbrough, Clint Robertson, James Easterling. I think those guys give you a chance. All of those guys are unknown quantities. We will just have to see what happens until they get into game situations. Sammy Morris, if he is eligible next fall, if he continues to maintain his current academic position, I think he will do a good job for us at fullback. He gives you a guy you can depend on and is really a great athlete. Rudy Renda and Harland Hill are behind him. They are guys we really don't know much about, but we expect a lot out of."

"We are just about nearly void at the tight end position right now. We don't have a lot of experienced football players at the tight end position. Tim Winn, a sophomore walk-on from Longview, has a chance to come forward. We are moving Terry Patton from defensive tackle to tight end. Terry gives us a big guy there. We will have to see how that position comes along. It will be interesting to see how it works, to say the least."

"The receiver position is probably down in numbers, but the quality is good. Donnie Hart is a great wide receiver. I think he proved that last year. He has got a great future ahead of him, a lot of good catches. He can run across the middle. Malcolm McKenzie really had a good fall. I think Malcolm has a chance to really come on and be a good football player, also. Those guys are the prominent ones. Everyone behind them are sort of unknown at this stage in the game. It will be interesting to see just exactly how they do. I think we do have some interesting scenarios. Mark Washington is a guy we think a lot of. I think he has a chance to be a good football player. I don't think there is any question Tim Baker has a chance to be a good football player. We have two or three other guys that it will be interesting to see how they do. I think we will probably be pretty good at that position. The receiver position was not very good for us last fall in terms of productivity."

"Offensive line is where the big question mark is. We have two guys back that have played a lot. Jay Pugh has been our starting center for about two years. He gives you a great experienced guy. He has really worked hard this spring before a leg injury and should be a good football player. Chris Whitney is another guy that we feel great about. He has great experience. He has done a nice job of getting himself ready to play. He has had a great career to this stage of the game. He has played a lot of football. So, it will be interesting to see how he does. He has a good future ahead of him.

"Erik Carruth is another guy who has had a pretty good off-season. I think he has got a chance to be a football player. Justin Collingsworth, from Pampa, certainly is another guy who has come on and played pretty good at times last year. The big question marks are going to be people like Jonathan Gray and Steve McFadden. They have both been here for a year. They are very talented people. They do not have any experience and we will just have to see how they do. Jayson Hansen had a knee injury last season and how he comes off that will be very important, as far as his productivity is concerned. Kyle Sanders is a walk-on. Rory Malouf is a walk-on. Jason Belden and John DePasquale are also both walk-ons. People that really will have a good spring. Robert Haddon, the jury is still out on how food a player he will be.

"Anthony Patricio, Rick Fielder and Shane Roberts are all interesting guys. We recruited them because we thought they would have a great chance to start. We will see what they do when the heat gets turned on this spring. It should be interesting. We won't be very good on offense for a long time. But, hopefully, the development will be slow and steady and will end up with a positive result."

"Defensively, we are excited. We do have a lot of key football players back. We lost some good football players. Robert Johnson was a great starter that played for us a long time. Jody Brown is another. Those guys are guys that played for us a long, long time around here and they did a nice job. It is going to be tough to lose those guys. Tony Daniels, Anthony Armour. It's tough to lose great players like them. Ryan Donohue played so good for us last year."

"We've got good players back on defense. At defensive end, Montae Reagor has a chance to be a great football player. Certainly, he is a guy that has tons of ability. He really has played well up to this stage of the game. Taurus Rucker is another guy who has a chance to be an excellent football player. Both of those guys played well last year. Duane Toliver is interesting. Zach Potter is interesting. Keith Cumby has played quite a bit. Keith has a chance to be pretty good. That is a good position for him. Kenny Kacal, that's who will start out at defensive end. That should be a pretty good position for us."

"The interior line of our defense should be the strength of our team. Corey Chandler and Cody McGuire give you two guys who have started for a long time. Two guys who really are good players. Cody Patton won't go through the spring due to an injury. Terry Patton has been moved to tight end. Aaron Hancock is still sort of an unknown. He has had a knee problem so we will see how he responds this spring. Jason Jones should be a great football player. I think he has a chance to be one of the best players we have ever had around here. Caleb Rains and Brian Smith give you two guys who could really be important to our depth this season."

"The linebackers are sort of interesting. Eric Butler is back. Eric played a lot last year. This will be his senior year. Eric has worked hard to be a leader. He has worked hard to be where he is today. I think he'll do a great job at middle linebacker. Kevin McCullar is a guy that really played well last year as a freshman. He has really got a good future ahead of him. Behind them, we have Kyle Shipley, Tim Duffie, Jonathan Hawkins and Will Culpepper. All of these guys are really interesting. It is going to be a lot of fun to see how they do. I don't think there is any question about that.

"The outside linebacker position is where there will be some real battles because that's where the big losses took place. Like I said, when you lose a guy like Robert Johnson, it does really set you back because Robert played so long for us. But, Ty Ardoin should come in a do a good job. He's been there a bunch of times. He's played some. He's done a good job. Reagan Bownds, we are going to look at him behind Ty. Chet Phaires is about ready to come through at strongside linebacker. Keith Cockrum, those guys will have a real dogfight at that position. Don't undersell Keith Cockrum because he has done a good job for us. At the Raider position, Duane Price moves in there. Duane is going to be interesting. It will be hard for Robbie Cartwright or Keith Cockrum to beat him out. There is going to be a big battle for these positions. Usually competition breeds success so we will see what happens."

"I think at the cornerback position, we are better off than we have been in a long time. Tony Darden is one of the best corners that we have had in years. Corey Turner really came on last year and developed. Darwin Brown is a guy that played some. Brian Giddens has played some. Oscar Solis, this is going to be an interesting year for him. He needs to do a good job. Rickey Hunter, we are going to start him out at corner. He is a great athlete. We will see what happens. At the safety position, Dane Johnson really needs to improve his play. Behind him is going to be Joe Fite this spring. We are going to give Joe a real chance to go and win that position. We are going to also try some other guys at that position like Ricky Hunter. We know right off the bat that have got some people that can play there, such as Reagan Bownds. So that will be interesting to see how that works out. The secondary is a position that I feel pretty good about.

"The kicker position, I think is great. I think Jaret Greaser and Tony Rogers are great. They will continue to do well. I think they can get nothing but better. The punter, Jeremy Hernandez, started out great last year, but sort fell on hard times late. Brian Roberson will really push him to see who is the best punter this spring. At deep snapper, we are going to really have auditions for that. We are starting out with Jay Pugh. Jay is pretty good. We will have to provide some replacements for him."

"The senior class last year that we had Was really good. We lost 12 seniors off the offensive side of the football. When you lose that many, it makes an impact. Losing Byron Hanspard, who came out a year early, made it hard on us. Byron has been such a steady force for us. Not only had he been a great football player, he's been there every week. He had been dependable and reliable and is going to be a guy we really miss. I think when you lose Tony Daniels it really affects you. Tony Daniels has been a big playmaker for us for a long time. He has been a guy that has made many, many big plays. And, when you lose a guy like him, it really does hurt you. Turn right around and there is a guy like Ryan Jones. Ryan was always there. When Sammy Morris went down last year and was ineligible, he was there and did a great job. Ryan is a guy that we are going to miss a lot.

"Kaufman, Jones, Dunn and Scherler and Kevin Ward. Those guys all played well on the offensive line. We are really going to miss them. They are good players, good athletes. They played a lot of snaps for us. Armour, Donahue and Johnson. Armour is one of the best players we have ever had here. Certainly, Robert Johnson would be among the top five or six defensive players I've coached since I've been here. Ryan Donahue and Jody Brown, losing those guys really puts you in a bind."

"I think the schedule we have next year is the kind of schedule that will really challenge our football team. We open up with a great football team on the road. We will be decisive underdogs over at the University of Tennessee. It should be a full house. It will probably be a national television game. It should be really a good game for us. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. So, that is the kind of thing we like. North Texas gives you a team that you should beat. They will be tough. Southwestern Louisiana is sort of a tossup. They were a heck of a football team last year. We will see what happens this year. We go to Nebraska. We go to Texas. We go to Oklahoma State. We have to go to Baylor.

"All of those teams are pretty hard to beat on the road. Especially Baylor has been a hard place for us. At Nebraska, Lincoln is bad for everybody. So, we will see what happens in that thing. The home teams, the games we have coming in here are pretty good. I like Kansas coming here. I like Kansas State coming here. I like Texas A&M coming here. That gives us a pretty good home schedule. Our fans should enjoy it.

"We should have a pretty interesting season, as far as the schedule is concerned. It is sort of what you like. The only bad thing about it. We play a game, we are off. We play two more games and we are off. And, then it is straight on. That's eight weeks in a row. That's pretty tough. You have Baylor, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. So, you would like to have one break down there somewhere."

"The recruiting class this year is the best we have ever had since we have been here. There is no doubt about that. I don't think it is even really close. We are excited about the incoming class. We feel like we have some impact football players, right on down the line.

"Antwan Alexander is a great defensive back. Jason Coffey is a heck of a running back. He will be a great fullback. Jamaal Crisp is a quarterback that has got success written all over him. Derek Dorris will probably play next year. Paul Erickson is an offensive lineman that will take a while. Stoney Garland is a defensive tackle from Plains (Texas). We recruiting him to where he could play this year. He should be a great player. Matt Heider is an offensive lineman that will take a while to play. Sam Hooks is a linebacker. He is a big, strong, rangy guy that has a chance. J.P. Jansen is a tight end that is going to grow and has his future ahead of him. Kris Kocurek, a big offensive lineman we hope doesn't have to play next year. Devin Lemons is a guy that we think has got a chance to make a good football player. He will probably play next year.

"Dan Martin is a junior college transfer from the College of the Desert and I think he will be fine. He is 6-1, 300 and a first-team junior college All-American. He ought to play this year. Jason May is another guy that could play. He is a two-way player from (Odessa) Permian (H.S.) and he has a chance to be great. John Norman. I guarantee John Norman will be in the lineup someplace next year when we play Tennessee. Dorian Pitts. I think Dorian Pitts may be the sleeper of the whole class. He has tons of athletic ability. He is a great player and a great athlete. I think he has a great future ahead of him. Robert Richardson is a great football player from Dallas Carter (H.S.). He gives you a big fast guy that can play a lot of different positions. Hopefully, he will be everything we think he will be.

"Dominic Rhodes is a guy that hasn't qualified yet. If he does, he's the best running back in Texas. I hope he can. Cole Roberts will have a chance to be the starting tight end in the first game he is here. We are going to give him every chance in the world to be successful. It will be interesting to see how he does. I think he will do great. David Simmons is a wide receiver from New Braunfels, much out of the same mold as a Field Scovell. He is a guy that has good tools and is a good athlete. Anthony Terrell is a defensive back from Houston. He is a tremendous athlete. He will be playing next year, no question about him. Detwill Williams is a linebacker, 217 pounds from Estacado. He is a good player. We may look at him at tight end next fall, also. He has a chance to be a good player. Lance Williams is a guy that should make a good college center. He is 6-2, 275. Great Strength and explosion. I think he has got a chance to really be good. Ricky Williams, is probably as good of a back that we have recruited in a long time. He has success written all over him. He will be a good football player."

"Our coaching staff is the best in the business. I think John Goodner is the finest defensive coach I have been around in years. Dean Campbell has been a defensive secondary coach with the best. I think he has proven that he can coach with anybody, anywhere. I think he does a great job. Dean Slayton is as good of a defensive tackle coach as there is in the country. The old veteran. The crusty old devil has been around a long time and does a good job. Larry Hoefer is the outside linebackers coach. Larry is a great recruiter. He has recruited several good football players the last two years. He is really a great football coach. I am tickled to death he is on our staff and came here after being the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Missouri two years ago. Doyle Parker is the old steady, Mississippi River guy that coaches defensive ends. His guys always play well. He does a great job of developing great players throughout his career and is one of the finest coaches in the business today.

"Offensively we have a great coaching staff. Rick Dykes has got a great background. He has good experience. He worked under the tutelage of Dick Winder for all those years and helped develop some great football players. He has been a great recruiter for us. He really did a great job for us in his first year as offensive coordinator. We had a record-setting offense and the second-best offense we have had since I've been here and that is pretty darn good. Clovis Hale gives you a veteran line coach. Clovis and I started coaching together in 1967 in Big Spring, Texas. Doyle Parker and I started coaching together in 1966. Jack Tayrien and I started coaching together in 1967. So, we have got really a great coaching staff. Clovis Hale is one of the best line coaches I have ever been around in my life. He was offered the line job here (in 1987) , but went to Texas with David McWilliams and it is nice that he could come back here. I think David Moody gives you a guy that is really a talented individual. He is a good man. He is a Lubbock native. He has done a good job wherever he has been. Rhudy Maskew is about as good of a coach that I have ever been around anywhere. Rhudy is a Texas Tech graduate and is a great motivator. He is a great kicking coach. He understands the kicking game better than anyone I have ever been around in my life. I think he is a great football coach. I think a lot of Byron Hanspard's success last year you can credit to Rhudy Maskew. It is really a good, good coaching staff."

"I think we are headed in the right direction right now. We have few negative things right now that most people go through when they get good. I talked to Bobby Bowden of Florida State. I talked to Joe Paterno at Penn State. When both of those teams got good, they had heck happening all of the time. I think that is just part of the process of being good. You have got to be able to withstand. You have got to persevere in this business and I think we are headed in the right direction."

"Four straight bowls is quite an accomplishment. I think first-team All-Americas three years in a row is quite an accomplishment. I think there are a lot of things going on at Texas Tech that are really very healthy. Hopefully, we can get the negatives behind us and start building on the positives a little bit."

"Jack Tayrien, the head of football operations, is a tremendous guy. I think overall, he is probably, the key to the strength of our program. He is the glue that holds this thing together. He has done a great job down through the years of always being there and being a step ahead of the game. "Our training staff, Natalie Steadman, Buzz Chisum, they are all great, great people. They are all people that you can really count on. The student trainers are outstanding. Donnie Buck and Orville and the managers have given us great, great consistency down through the years. I think we have a managerial staff second to none. There is no question about that. "The best team doctor in college football today is Robert King. I don't think there is any question about that. I think Michael Robertson is going to be a great doctor. I think Dr. Burke is great and those guys give us a lot of expertise and have really done a nice job. They work so well with our trainers so we have always got that kind of thing working for us.

"David Hougland is the brightest young video guy on the scene anywhere in the country. He has turned down three or four chances to move in the last two years. I think he is an outstanding young individual who has a great future ahead of him. Our video program here at Texas Tech is second to none.

"Academics, I think Clint Ramsey has done an excellent job on an interim basis. Academics have really been good at Texas Tech. We were the second-leading Big 12 school in graduation rate in the last poll at 69 percent. That is something we are really proud of. Hopefully, we can continue to improve on that. We will probably fall off a little bit because that was an extraordinary year. But, we really believe that academics are headed in the right direction. There have been a lot of scholar-athletes on our football team. The team we have just recruited is very, very good academically compared to what we recruited a few years ago. I think there is no question about their abilities. Academics are probably better right now than they have been in a long time."

"The social life here at Texas Tech is very good. We are not a commuter school. Most of our student body here, 60 percent, I think, is from over 300 miles from Lubbock. On the weekends is when the social life at Texas Tech is at its very best. Our guys have a lot of fun going to school here. They do a good job of taking care of their business. I think the social life is outstanding."

"I think athletics at Texas Tech is a big plus. I don't think there is any question that in the last three or four years we have been as hot a team as there is around and I am really proud of what they have accomplished. Hopefully, we will continue to make marked improvement as we go on. I think the interesting thing about the athletic experience at Texas Tech is that we are old enough now that we are getting some people out in the community and out in the state that have graduated from Tech that have been players here who are doing extremely well. There is not a question about our graduates are second to none as far as their job opportunities. And, hopefully, that will continue to improve."

"I think the Chancellor's support of our athletic programs is good. He has done a nice job. He is a breath of fresh air. He is certainly a guy that has really been very, very hands-on compared to the last president that we had. I am really tickled to have him. We have got a great faculty here at Texas Tech. They have really done a nice job of supporting us down through the years. We have got many caring people on the faculty. They have been extremely good for every aspect of the game. Hopefully, this relationship will continue to get better. When it does, I think it is going to be a great situation."

"I think the competition in the Big 12 brings out the best in everybody, there's no question about that. The season that we had last year was a little disappointing. We really thought we had a chance to win the Southern half. So, we were disappointed in the season record last year. We were disappointed in the outcome. But, I was pleased with the way we competed. I think we did a good job with that. Certainly, we would like to be a viable contender for the championship game and hope that is where we are headed and we will have a chance to do that."

"I think high school football in the state of Texas is fantastic. West Texas, because of the population, matches the Metroplex and other metropolitan areas. I think it has fallen off a little bit from where it was 25 years ago. Still, West Texas football is second to none. High school football is still a big event on Friday night in West Texas. That really makes it a very unique place. The Metroplex has been very good for us. Over 50 of our players last year were from the Metroplex. They have done an outstanding job of improving the football programs in the Metroplex. A lot of great football teams and a lot of great football programs up there. It is really interesting that we have had so much success in that area. I do think it is outstanding that we have had that success and this is where Rick Dykes, Larry Hoefer, Dick Winder, all those guys have done a nice job of recruiting the Metroplex down through the years. We really have some good players from there."

"Well, having the longest tenure of any football coach at Texas Tech has probably about played its string out, it looks like (kidding). It has been a great ride and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I love Tech and I really feel bad about all of the undue, bad publicity we have had lately. It really makes you wonder sometimes. It is a sad scenario when you have that kind of a feeling. It takes a lot of the icing off of the cake. It really does take a lot of fun out of the game. Still, that is part of the process, and we will go on down the road and see what happens. Hopefully, we will make some improvement and see what happens."


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